A ton of effort and a great deal of thought goes into building a website. And you never want to lose any of it, right ? Even the small update that you may have made just yesterday ? Websites are generally safe with WordPress as the content management system, but it may sometime happen that you simply lose all of it.
Loss of a data may hit any website and may happen for many reasons,
- Hackers getting at the website. Host servers are often the targets of malicious attacks.
- Host servers may be unreliable.
- Bad development work in a free or sometimes even premium WP plugins.
- Any natural disaster which physically harms the server.
This can put you in quite a sticky situation. But all of this can be avoided, simply by using backup. With backup, you can keep a complete and almost to the minute/ hour/ day/ week/ month updated version of your website that can be recalled (and restored) by a simple click.
You can do back up in two ways- manual and automatic. Each method has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. The method of choice depends on individual need. For a website with limited viewership and staff, manual backup will work just fine, so long as it is done diligently. With manual backups, there is more choice. But it also comes with the bother of having to sit at it regularly.
For more info on manual backups, WordPress Codex is a good read. For a website with a larger viewership and staff, it would be advisable to go in for automatic backup, as the frequency of backup required may be more. Else, the site may experience downtime while data is being retrieved. This can harm the business of traffic heavy sites.
You can choose a premium plugin, a freemium plugin (plugins that have both a free and a pro version) or a free plugin from the many plugins on offer. Free plugins that are popular have mostly been rated by thousands of users and this can help you pick the right one.
Plugins that make you reach for your wallet generally have good customer support. Premium plugins are also more regularly updated and offer security features as add ons. While you can check out all the features of a plugin before choosing, the features that you ought not to miss checking up on are,
- Ability to back up your entire website -database, files, themes and everything else.
- Automation of backups and restoration.
- Easy to use, even for a novice.
- Good customer support.
- Cloud storage for backups, which you means you can access them from any location or device.
There are a few things that you must do with almost military regularity while backing up your website,
- Always backup and restore before every upgrade.
- Backup schedule must sync with your blogging / update frequency.
- Spam filter and stat plugins need not be backed up as they add little value to your site and simply take up server space.
- Occasional manual backup to be doubly safe and to perform checks on the automated system.
A handy tip – running a backup causes a load on your server and this may result in unfinished backups. When any limit is reached on shared hosting services, the backup process may pause and then resume. So it may be a good idea to increase your PHP limit for the duration of the backup.
We sifted through some premium, freemium and free backup services and plugins and take you through the features of a few in this post. Premium plugins do mean money from your pocket, but it is money well spent knowing your website is safe. It literally buys you peace of mind.
Premium Plugins/ Services
This is a service established by Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress and team at Automattic. The VaultPress plugin connects the websites to the servers at VaultPress. VaultPress makes it easy to keep the backup updated with every post, picture, page, comment, revision and setting.
VaultPress is optimized for WordPress powered sites and can,
- Automatically back up your site in real time, as well as daily. Back up is incremental, which means it creates a backup of what has been updated within minutes of the updating your software. This ensures efficient use of server resources.
- Perform security scans daily and detect threats.
- Monitor backup activity in real time.
- Automatically fix security threats and notifies you.
- Send emails to you of any suspicious activity on your website.
- Maintain a backup history that you can access for easier restoration points.
- Restore a backup automatically if FTP or SSH information is provided.
- Generally safeguard your site with the help of WordPress experts.
VaultPress packages start at $5 per month and goes up to $29 per month, with a 30 day money back guarantee. You can upgrade, downgrade or cancel packages at any time. The rates are on a per site basis and you will have to shell out more if you want the service for more than one website.
VaultPress makes it easy to backup with it’s impressive services. It also has more security features than Backup Buddy, our next plugin. It has over 20,000 active installs and a star rating of 4.7 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
This is a plugin authored by iThemes, a WordPress development studio. It is a completely reliable back up system for WordPress sites.
The plugin has many features that come in handy to restore your website from scratch,
- Both quick, small and frequent backups as well as complete backup of the database, files , themes and everything else on the website.
- Sending backed up files to an offsite storage like Stash, which is Backup Buddy’s own storage facility or any external facility like Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, FTP or email.
- Automatic backups that can be scheduled and sent to offsite storage.
- Creating custom profiles for backups to use their own settings and exclusions.
- Exclude files and tables, so that data heavy files do not have to be backed up every time.
- Moving a site to another server or domain directly from the WordPress dashboard by creating a database and entering those database credentials during the import process.
- Replacing all the URLs when you migrate to a new site.
- Handling even serialized data which is complicated, which most other plugins cannot.
- Limiting the size of your backups in storage to prevent overflow.
- Do regular malware checks.
- Email notifications for actions received or completed.
- Scanning and repairing database for common issues.
- Replacing text throughout the entire site.
- Backup Buddy users are entitled to 1 GB of free storage space on Stash.
Backup Buddy plans range from $80 per year for 2 sites to $297 per year for any number of sites.
This plugin is quite the favorite of many WordPress developers as it allows them to custom build an entire site locally or on a temporary domain and then migrate the entire site to a live client domain. It has an active install count of 700,000 with a 4.5 star rating on WordPress.org.More info / Download
BlogVault aims to be the safest and best way to back up a blog. It is a topnotch service that ensures the reliability of your website. The team at BlogVault provides great customer support.
The services of BlogVault includes,
- Complete backup of your site, including files and database.
- Migration services.
- Fully automated restore.
- Test restore.
- Encrypted and secure backups.
- Security features.
- Supports multisite backups.
- A history of backups.
2 Plans are offered – Basic at $9 per month and Unlimited at $99 per month. What many customers like about this service is their Test Restore option. This option can be very useful when you are not sure about which version of the backup you want to restore. You can then restore it to a test server at blogVault and see it working like an actual website.
BlogVault scores over Backup Buddy in offering a 7 day free trial, test restore, different versions of backups, offsite backup at no extra cost and complete service. Also, storage is not at your end and backups are incremental which means your server space is not taken up.
BlogVault even backs up read only versions of your website. But unlike Backup Buddy, blogVault needs an ongoing subscription. And the backup dashboard is not in WP Admin. BlogVault has more than 10,000 active installs and a rating of 4.3 WordPress.org.More info / Download
CodeGuard is a fast and reliable backup service which tracks your website daily. The plugin offers a precise and time saving automated solution. Full site recovery is possible with a great level of simplicity.
- Daily automatic backup, daily monitoring and one click restore.
- Unlimited databases.
- Back up retention period starts at 30 days.
- On demand backup (not for the basic package).
- Change alert notifications and custom notification filtering.
- Downloadable zips and one click restore.
- Varying levels of access for employees.
- Reporting on initial backup/ activation tracking and daily backup tracking.
- Email (all packages) and phone support (not for the basic package).
The packages range from $5 to $299 per month which cover 1 to 100 websites and offer 5 to 500 GB of storage per site. All packages except the basic come with advanced security features.
CodeGuard encrypts all passwords and backups and uses secure connections wherever possible. An independent agency tests it annually for vulnerabilities and no data breach has been reported until recently.More info / Download
Snapshot Pro is a premium plugin from WPMU’s development team. On the click of a button, a complete archive of the entire website as at a particular point of time can be created and the whole archive can be restored at a desired destination. It is specially relevant to multisite admins to create snapshots of their database on all the sites.
Additionally, you can
- Have a quick view of server info.
- Manage memory usage and zip archive.
- Include media files and exclude specific files.
- Set custom backup folders.
- Automatically delete the earliest backup.
- Schedule backups and set up backup interval or even backup manually.
- Download log files and mirror sync.
Snapshot Pro also has the advantage of multisite global file exclusions, size segmenting which reduces timeouts, multisite compatibility, and integration with Dropbox, S3, Google drive, FTP and Secure File Transfer Protocol. The plugin comes with a tag of $40.
The free version has not been updated in over 4 years and may have compatibility issues with recent versions of WordPress. It has about 4000 active installs with a star rating of 4.7 0n WordPress.org.More info / Download
myRepono WordPress Backup plugin
Using online and web based management system, myRepono online website backup service allows automation of backup of your entire WordPress site, database, templates, plugins, PHP and user data.
All restoration is managed through online tools ensuring that the site is alive again very quickly.
- Backup unlimited WordPress files and data.
- With the help of web tools, back up individual files or complete folders.
- Backup individual MySQL tables or entire MySQL database.
- Files are encrypted and stored securely.
- Restore files individually or en masse from your backup.
- Backups can be compressed to almost 10% of their original size.
- Schedule back up as you wish.
- Compatible with 99% of web servers and hosting companies.
- All systems audited daily for security.
It is not free and has a pay as you go system with a $5 free trial credit. At just about a penny a day, it is good value for money. It has about 3000 active installs with a star rating of 4.1 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
Akeeba is a plugin that claims to backup and restore your entire website in seconds. The backup can be done in standard zip formats, highly optimized JPA archives or AES 128 secured JPS archives based on your choice.
Migrate the blog to another server, move it to another location or create an exact clone of your WordPress site with Akeeba. Many users have reported issues with this plugin.More info / Download
Freemium Backup Plugins
Updraft Plus is an easy to use and can be configured intuitively. It is the highest ranked backup and restore plugin on WordPress.org.
Free and premium versions are available and the premium version comes with quite a number of added features.
- Intuitive interface and multisite compatible.
- Supports manual and automatic backups.
- Schedules can be customized and files and database can be backed up on separate schedules.
- Select files to backup.
- Supports cloud backup to Updraft Plus Vault or to Amazon S3, Rackspace, Dropbox, Google drive (Microsoft One Drive, Google cloud storage, FTP, SFTP additional in premium).
- Back up to Updraft Plus Vault is a one click connection.
- Site duplicator/ migrator can copy files. Restoration is an add on.
- Failed uploads are automatically retried.
- Database backups can be encrypted to enhance security (premium).
- Encrypted transfer to cloud storage (premium).
- Backup logs maintained and reports sent.
- Database, themes, content, plugins and ‘other’ content placed in separate backup files.
- Download directly from your WordPress control panel.
- Download and restore backups done by some other plugins like BackWPup.
The premium version can automatically back up before every update and support for additional backup locations. 1 GB of free storage in Updraft Plus Vault is made available, with the option to purchase more.
The starting price for premium versions are $70. It has about 500,000 active installs with an impressive star rating of 4.9 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
WP Database Backup
With Database backup plugin, you can create and restore backups in push button mode. The backups can be automated or manual.
The free version includes these features,
- Download backup directly from your WordPress dashboard.
- Auto backup on a repeating schedule.
- One click restoration.
- Easy to install and use.
- Save backup file in zip folder in local server as well as send it to destination in zip format.
- Database backup list pagination.
A premium version is also available which has added features like backup of selected files, manual backup, multisite compatibility, PclZip option and support. It has about 30,000 active installs with a star rating of 4.1 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
BackWPup is a plugin from MarketPress , a place where you can buy WordPress add-ons. Buyers recommend it as reliable and easy to use.
It has an intuitive interface which guides you through the process and multiple archive formats.
- Database backup.
- Check and repair database.
- Backup archives and log file management.
- WordPress XML export.
- Log report via email.
- Backup as email, or to Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, Drop Box, S3, FTP server and Sugar-sync as well as to your web space.
The restore facility has not been advertised, and some WordPress community members have commented that this is absent in this plugin. The free version is downloadable from WordPress.org. With the free version, you can basically do a manual backup to an external storage and automatic backups are not possible.
The premium version has additional features like backup to Amazon Glacier and Google Drive, differential backups, complete database check,compression and support, complete file backup and multi site support, premium support and automatic updates from Press box.
The purchase price varies from $75 to $190 and renewal is optional after 12 months. It has about 400,000 active installs with a star rating of 3.9 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
Technically, Duplicator is site migrator plugin, but it can also be used for general backup and restore. Scheduled automated backups are not possible with this plugin and this maybe a drawback. It’s USP is that it can clone and migrate a site from one location to another.
It doubles as a simple backup solution, but you need to have a fair amount of technical knowledge to be able to work with this plugin. It may be the ideal one for developers who build a website in local environment and then migrate it to a live location.
Or to pull a site down to your own machine for testing and validation. Duplicator Pro, the premium version takes it to the next level. It has about 500,000 active installs with a star rating of 4.9 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
BackUpWordPress can backup your entire site at a schedule that suits your needs. It is free and easy to use.
The features that make this plugin popular are,
- Works on both Windows and Linux server.
- Requires little memory, so ideal for shared environments.
- Can manage multiple schedules.
- Excludes files and folders from your backups.
- Translations in many languages are available.
Before tapping the Buy button for this plugin, readers must be aware that quick restore is not an option and sending backups to storage like Dropbox and Google drive is a paid add-on.
The extension costs $99. With both the free version and the paid extension, it is difficult to migrate a website. It has about 200,000 active installs with a star rating of 4.7 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
WordPress Backup to Dropbox
Downloading and installing WordPress Backup to Dropbox free plugin takes no time at all. You have to simply pick the day and time for backup. After that, you can sit back and watch the files being downloaded into your Dropbox. The plugin connects to Dropbox via OAuth. Files can be excluded from backups.
Premium extensions are available. However, restoration from backup is not available and as compression is not possible, backup takes a good deal of time. It has about 100,000 active installs with a star rating of 3.8 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
Only core WordPress Database tables can be backed up with WP_DB_Backup. But this should not pose a real problem if you can backup your files physically using FTP. Not much support, even via forums.
The source code is available on Github. It has about 500,000 active installs with a star rating of 4.6 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
Cyan backs up your entire website and database into a zip file as per a schedule. You can specify which files and directories should and should not be backed up.
The backups can be stored remotely, but there is no restore option. It has about 2,000 active installs with a star rating of 4.1 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
XCloner is a full backup and restore solution for WordPress. It will backup and restore both files and database. It is designed for PHP and MySQL files. It uses open source technology to back up content.
It has about 70,000 active installs with a star rating of 4.2 on WordPress.org.More info / Download
Some other free plugins that can be mentioned include,
- Keep Backup Daily will back up mySql tables and email it daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.
- Complete Central Backup takes an instant live backup of your entire site. Can upgrade WordPress or plugin without losing any backup data.
- S3Bubble Amazon S3 Backup keeps your data secure in a totally controllable way. It has a secure installation process and backup analytics. High level of compression and security is possible.
- WP Time Capsule which is free and makes possible incremental backups and one click restoration.
ManageWP is a basket of services that takes care of your entire WordPress needs. It puts all your WP sites in one dashboard and offers single click backup and restore as a part of the basket. The backups are reliable, with automated schedules and has all the storage options of the other plugins.
The plans start with $0.8 per website per month for individual bloggers to $4.8 for large businesses. Considering that their services include entire WP management, that’s a steal. It also offers a free trial.More info / Download
CMS Commander also manages all your WordPress sites in one Dashboard. You can manage up to 5 websites for $8 per month and up to 200 sites for $75 per month. A free trial is available.More info / Download
WordPress Service Companies
All the plugins and services discussed here offer just that – plugins and services, and you have to do the actual backup yourself. But there are companies offering to actually do all this for you and you can find some of them listed below.
They undertake to carry out real time cloud backups, WordPress update management, 24/7 security monitoring and hack cleanups, eCommerce support, uptime monitoring, site care boost, performance optimization, monthly SEO and social audit, along with other services.
- WP Site Care – a company that offers friendly and professional WordPress support. Plans range from $79 to $299 per month.
- WP Valet – a full service team that acts as web support valets. They can be contacted for a quote.
- WP-Butler – a company that promises to take care of all your WordPress worries. You pay for the services you choose.
- WP-Upkeep– makes maintenance of WordPress sites easy for a bill that can be either $70 or $250 per month.
- WP-Tonic– also offers WP maintenance at $49.99 to $89.99 per month.
With hackers becoming more sophisticated, the importance of security cannot be overlooked. There is a growing realization of this and nowadays it is becoming the norm to incorporate security throughout the software building process, rather than something that is added at the end.
At our end, the basic minimum that we can do to keep our websites safe is to install and use a backup solution. You can choose any of the options discussed here, depending on the unique needs of your website. Or if you find better alternatives, do write in so we can expand our options.
Managed WordPress hosting services like WPEngine also provide backup services as part of their offerings. I felt including it here wouldn’t really be fair to talk about hosting services, given the depth of the topic. I have however discussed in great length, “How To Choose The Right Hosting For Your WordPress Website“.